A Travel Guide to Tbilisi, Georgia

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*I spent 6 days in Tbilisi, Georgia in September, 2015 and really enjoyed my time there (no, this is not the Georgia in the USA…). In this travel guide, I will tell you about my experiences and give you recommendations for things like culture, food, nightlife and things to do.  

I am predicting that Georgia is going to explode in tourism over the next 3-5 years, so I’ll do my best to keep the content updated for years to come!

General Thoughts

My trip to Georgia was my first visit to the Caucasus Region — the boundary between Europe and Asia made up of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Eastern Turkey, Southern Russia and Northern Iran.

I had absolutely no expectations going into my trip, and I didn’t do any research. I just went in with an open mind and strong desire to explore a new culture!

Upon arrival at Tbilisi International airport at 3AM, I was picked up and greeted by my Couch Surfing host named Sam from Nigeria. He was kind enough to show me around during my trip and he let me sleep at his place for free!

My first impressions of Tbilisi were: laid back, safe and ancient.  

The city (more like a town) is well-kept and everything is cute from the churches to the streets.  The architecture is an awesome mix of ancient and modern. Many of the streets around the Old Town are narrow and lined with cafes, shisha bars and small restaurants. And Georgian people were generally nice with the exception of taxi drivers.

Everything in Georgia is VERY cheap.  It’s cheaper than any country in Europe and even cheaper than Turkey, where I was traveling from before.  This is a huge plus for budget backpackers like myself, and it enabled me to travel without feeling pressure on my shoulders.

The language in Georgia is unique and it is not similar to any other language in the world.  I thought it looked really cool with a bunch of squiggly lines and curves put together!

See what I mean?

According to the Georgian ancient proverb, Tbilisi is the city that LOVES YOU!  Since ancient times, it has actually been noted that “Every guest is a Godsend,” for hospitality.  And I can see how this is true, because I always had a warm and welcoming feeling into the country, unlike several other countries that I’ve been in the area.

Alright, let’s get into some quick facts:

Quick Facts

  • Language: Georgian
  • Population: 1.5 million
  • Currency: Georgian Lari
  • Tbilisi was founded in the 5th Century
  • Georgia, as a country, gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991
  • The architecture is a mixture of medieval, classical and Soviet structures
  • Georgia is geographically located in between Europe and Asia
  • Georgia is the 3rd country to adopt Christianity in 328 AD, and there are many orthodox churches of similar style
  • Georgia is considered the “birthplace of wine” with some of the best in the world to this day.

Culture and people

Georgian culture and history is quite interesting and it goes back about 1,500 years.

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But in order to understand Georgian culture, you must first learn about the history of the land.  So here is a breakdown:  Georgia was an independent Kingdom for about 800 years until it was annexed by Russian in 1801. After a brief bid for independence from 1918–1921, Georgia once again became part of the Socialist Soviet Republic from 1922 to 1936, and then formed the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

So basically, Georgia was ruled by the Russians for the majority of modern history until it became independent in the year I was born, 1991.

During the first 15 years or so after Georgia became an independent country, I was told by my Georgian friends that the country was very dangerous with a lot of corruption and drug trafficking. There was a civil war happening, and it was very common for houses to get broken into and for people to get mugged.

However, Georgia has seen a complete transformation over the last 10 years.  The police became very strict and started giving huge punishments to people for their crimes.  And to this day, the police are still seen everywhere on the streets, and I always felt safe.  I have honestly never seen more police in my life than in Georgia — For every 50 cars I saw, one was a policeman.

Given the history as mentioned above, there is a huge difference between the older and younger generations.  The older people are still not very friendly and they don’t speak English (almost everyone speaks Russian as a second language).  The younger people around my age were very open-minded and most people knew English.  I’m certain that in the next decade, as the younger generation gets older, the country of Georgia will continue to grow in a positive direction.

Generally speaking, I found the girls to be more friendly than the guys.  They were more open and seemed more interesting to get to know me.  The guys (mostly older guys) came off as arrogant and nosey.  I saw some fights happening on the street between unpleasant men.

Be careful about gypsys! They hang around the Old City and the mothers will send their kids begging your leg for money.  One gypsy mother stole a 2 Lari bill out of my hand and I was pissed off!

A final note on religion – about 85% of Georgians practice Christianity and there are dozens of beautiful churches in Tbilisi.   But there’s also a big expat community of all religions who get along with each other — I saw some Synagogues and Mosques literally next to each other.

What To Do?

There are several fun things to do in Tbilisi and the surrounding areas of Georgia.  Here are my top 6 recommendations:

1. Wine – Georgia is famous for its rich winemaking heritage. The major wine region of Georgia (Kakheti) is located 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Tbilisi on the Eastern side of the country. I didn’t have the chance to visit there, but I tried the wine and it’s damn tasty!

2. Churches – Tbilisi is home to some famous Christian Orthodox Churches that have been in use for several hundreds of years.  The architectural styles across the churches are very similar, but they are absolutely worth seeing.

3. Old City – The Old city in Tbilisi is stunning.  My advice is to walk around with neither a map nor a destination in mind… Just get lost around the curvy roads and enjoy looking at the old architecture — that’s the best way to explore around!

4.Mountains – Georgia’s home to the highest mountains in the Causcaus region called the Svaneti mountains in the North Western part of the country.  Surrounded by 3,000–5,000 meter peaks, the natural landscape here is some of the prettiest on earth. The Svans are the indigenous people who live there and are an ethic sub group of Georgian people.  In the summer, you can go hiking there or in the wintertime, you can go skiing!

5. Baths – Similar to a Turkish bath (Hamam), Georgians like to go to public places to relax and get scrubbed down clean.  The baths in Tbilisi are all over the old town area, and some are as cheap as $5!  If you have a few hours to spare – then head over to a bath for a unique cultural experience.

6. Beaches – The Western boundary of Georgia lies along the Black Sea.  A city called Batumi is the most famous seaside destination.  The beaches are not the most beautiful in the world (they have stone instead of sand) — but how many other countries can you go skiing in the morning and lay on the beach in the afternoon?

The Food

OMGGGG – Gerogian food was the most unexpectedly the most amazing part about my experience in the country. It’s cheap, filling and delicious.

The most common Georgian dish is called Khinkali and I literally ate it every single day. (If you followed my Snapchat, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.)

Basically, Khinkali is made up of thick dumplings with minced beef and tasty soup inside. It’s like drinking soup and eating beef at the same time! They are served steaming hot and when you bite them open, some of the soup will come out and splatter on the plate.

I could eat these everyday and trust me, you want them. It’s only a few dollars for 10 dumplings!

Another great Georgian specialty to try is called Khachapuri — it is a substitute to pizza.  The bread is leavened and allowed to rise and then shaped in various ways, and the filling is oozing with cheese and sometimes egg. 

There are also some fresh soups containing beef, rice, cherry plum puree, and served chopped with coriander. Sometimes the meat could be lamb, pork, or chicken and the soup will be spiced differently depending on the region of Georgia from which it is prepared. A must try!

The Nightlife

I was in Tbilisi on a weekend, so I had the chance to experience the nightlife which caught me by surprise!

Most of the scene is outdoor hipster bars, lounges and there are some clubs that are worthy to visit. The people that party are young, edgy and attractive.

The main area for tousists to hand out and more expensive bars is called Chardeni Street and Erekle II street in the Old Town, along the bank of the river.  But my favorite place to go out was in a district called Perovskaya, near the McDonald’s in Rustaveli.  These bars were trendy with good music and a lively, artsy crowd.

I found about half the locals to be conversational in English, so it was really hit or miss to make some friends.

In Rustaveli, I went to a big outdoor hang out spot called Canudos Ethnic Bar with great electronic music and chill vibes.  The drinks were so cheap (a beer was less than $2 and a rum and coke was $1). Head around this area to start the night!

I also went to a few clubs, but my favorite was called Gallery. It’s a cafe by day and by night it transforms into a dark warehouse that plays deep house music and serves really strong drinks. Everyone in this place seemed to be pretty drunk, dancing and having a great time.

Final Words

I truly had a great time in Georgia and I recommend you to visit there.  And try to go soon, before the country explodes in tourism in the next 3-5 years!

Please comment below with any questions you have, and don’t forget to book your hotels on this link 🙂  Cheers!

82 thoughts on “A Travel Guide to Tbilisi, Georgia

  1. We will be in Georgia this Jan 2018. I find this really helpful. Is there anyway we could further ask you about the places and activities we could do? We hope to do a DIY itinerary. This is our first time to do it with my friend. We both scared to get lost and waste our time haha.

  2. Hey,

    Great article for sure! It really describes Georgia as a travel destination perfectly. Hi! im planning to travel to Georgia BEGINNING OF August for a week ,Just two things, I think would like to know ,is it very hot in the start of August???what type of clothes should i pack ?? Im allergic to heat thats the reason for enquiry!!!! Please do help me out….. will there be snow any part of georgia to experience it …

  3. Sorry but you made some mistakes while writing this post.
    Georgia is the 2nd country in the world to adopt christianity and Georgias history dates about to over 2000 years back.

  4. Very nice and informative article.3 of us plan to visit Georgia in October.I like to know whether it is easy to get flights to Tehran from Tbilisi.

  5. Hey,

    great article for sure! It really describes Georgia as a travel destination perfectly. i just have one question what is the best attraction place for the hotels?

    1. hello there,

      i can guide you in tbilisi with my own car or i can rent to you, also i will manage to show most interesting and not only touristic places, will offer a good wine, (i’m sommelier ) you will have an amazing 48 hour with all sweetens of the country 😉

      for any question contact me on Facebook dachi chanadiri

      best regards 😉

  6. Hello Drew,

    Nice article and found more informative. We as a Family of 5 people planning to visit Georgia in another couple of weeks time as a 5 day tour. Appreciate if you could suggest some itinerary and places to settled down for night stay. Also, it would be helpful if you could advise best Tour Operators available for guided tours in separate CAB.

    1. Hi, My friend is tour guide and he has tour packages. you can add in whatsapp +995555055545. you can ask everything him.

  7. I am an Indian citizen residing in Bahrain with a resident permit travelling with my family to Tbilisi mid December for 10 days. Is the weather good enough to see all the sights?

      1. Hello Ravi,I am from Singapore please can you let me know if Singaporean need visa to enter the country and which are the flight that comes there Singapore Airline?Please also let me know if i want to start a business what i need to do or can you help me get in touch with the Govt dept which i can speak too,
        Thanks
        Tom Kalwani
        Singapore

  8. Amazing article! It has actually been a big inspiration to make my own blog on Georgia 🙂 We need to spread the word about this awesome country!

  9. Hey I need to know what type of weather is it in Sept, I will be travelling from 1 – 6 of sep and going from dubai – Uae which is very hot place , so what you suggest should we talk warm clothes as we are not use to cold weather.

  10. TBILISI-MTSKHETA-KAKHETI-BORJOMI-TBILISI
    (7 DAY /6 NIGHTS)
    Day 1: Arrive in Tbilisi. Transfer to the hotel. City introductory tour. Dinner in the hotel.
    Day 2: Breakfast. Drive to Kakheti – Sighnaghi (city of love). We will visit old castle from where we will see the spectacular view of the Alazani Field. Visit Bodbe Monastery. Drive to Telavi, Accommodation in the hotel, Delicious dinner in National Kakhetian Restaurant.
    Day 3: Breakfast. See the sights of Telavi, visit Alaverdi monastery (included in UNESCO‘s World Heritage Site list). Drive to Tbilisi, Accommodation in the hotel, free time. Dinner in the hotel.
    Day 4: Breakfast. Drive to Javakheti Region, see the complex of Vardzia and drive to AkhaltsikHe. Visit Rabati Castle. Have a lunch and accommodation in the hotel, free time. Dinner in the Restaurant.
    Day 5: Breakfast. Drive to Borjomi, see Borjomi park and taste Borjomi mineral water. Visit Likani Resort and Palace of Romanov family. Have a lunch. Drive to Tbilisi, Accommodation in the hotel and Dinner.
    Day 6: Breakfast. Tbilisi city tour. Visit Holy trinity Monastery, after that go on Rike Park from where we will go up to Narikala by cabel car, walk in the old town, Abanotubani (sulphur baths). Dinner in the hotel.
    Day 7: Breakfast in the hotel and transfer to the airport.
    Tour includes:
    ● Overnight in the hotel (breakfast, dinner) and lunch during the route
    ● Guide service in every tour (Russian Speaking / English Speaking)
    ● Excursions and Entrance tickets
    ● Food

    Tour does not include:
    ●Medical Insurance
    ●Additional excursions

  11. Hi,
    it was very nice & informative article,I am planning to visit Tbilisi from 19th to 26th August with family with 7 yr old son .Can any one recommend the best places to visit during our 6 days trip? We are not very fond of beaches ,would love to natural scenery,country side & city attractions within 200km of Tibilisi city.

          1. I will be travelling from uae on 25th of august until 1st.. I would like to know about the places I can visit in Georgia.. And the things i can do .. I would also like to know about the night life there !! Thankyouu!

          2. I will be travelling from uae on 25th of august until 1st.. I would like to know about the places I can visit in Georgia.. And the things i can do .. I would also like to know about the night life there including how expensive it is as well .. Like an approx !! Thankyouu!

      1. Hi, i want to go to TBilisi Georgia this August 22-28, 2016. Please i want to know if there’s available tour package, i will travel alone.

        1. Hi, My friend is tour guide and he has tour packages. you can add in whatsapp +995555055545. you can ask everything him.

  12. Hi drew! Its a great article of yours! Just wanna ask do you have any suggestion of which hotel should we stay in georgia? 🙂 Hope you’ll be able to reply. Goodluck on your travels! 🙂

  13. Drew, I think and am pretty sure Georgia should be in the section of Europe, not Asia : ) don’t know if you noticed, but mentioning them as Asia usually upsets Georgian people : )

  14. Hi Drew, great post! I love Georgia and I find Tbilisi one of the cutest cities I’ve been to. Compact and full of character. Oh, and I could live forever on khinkali and khachapuri… 🙂

  15. Loved the article,
    Thanks for the info. I am travelling to Georgia on 7th of July 2016 from Dubai.
    Pretty excited 🙂

  16. Hi! I enjoyed reading your article and I made up my mind to go to Georgia this August. But do you think it will be safe for solo female travelers? I intend to travel alone for 3-4 weeks. And would it be easy to use public transportation like the locals to go around?
    Any advise would be of much help. Thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Crisel….i m also travelling to Georgia from Dubai in last week of august…. I am looking for a travel buddy ….. Lets meet there

    2. Hi,
      I travelled to Georgia last year and found it very safe, even when I was alone (16 yr old girl). I took buses all across the country and with a little help from friends and locals it all worked just fine. You will always be helped in Georgia and many people speak basic English. Have fun and enjoy your trip!

    3. Crisel… Objectively and even based on the researches, it’s one of the safest countries in Europe : ) So don’t worry about it ; )

  17. Hey Drew,

    Am traveling first week of June and off course am looking for good night life thing. Am basically a party animal types and would like to visit new and happening places.Can you please suggest me few places like must visit types. And yeah have fun for your future travels.

    Cheers

    1. Saw your post too late, but for other “party animals”, depends on music taste. If you like electronic go to Bassiani or Memorphoze; for live rock or indie-pop type – Perovskaya street (Nali, Old London, Dublin); for hip-hop or R&B or Karaoke – Chardin street and others (El Centro, One Side, Unique, Rooftop Terrace, VIP Time, Keep Calm Tbilisi).

  18. Hey !
    I’m actually in Tbilisi and I did what you recommend to go out : Canudos and Gallery. As you said, great music and underground style 🙂 But in Gallery most of people were gay, so not so easy to close girls !!
    Do you remember a good nightclub, more “VIP” where there will have hot girls ? (I don’t talk about strip club of course 😉

    1. Man,
      How is the party scenes happening there???? Can you please suggest me few good places. Am visiting next week.

      Cheers

  19. Thanks for your article. Now I have an idea on what to expect in Georgia. Hopefully i plans push through, I will be there June 7-11. Thanks Drew. Now you have a fan here.

  20. Hi Drew,

    Loved your insights on Tbilisi! I’m going to visit in a few weeks and wondering if you have the contact info of anyone who still lives there, perhaps your Couch Surfing Host? I would love to chat with them to get a sense of the place in the most authentic way possible.

    1. i m also travelling to Georgia from Dubai in last week of august…. I am looking for a travel buddy ….. Lets meet there….email me your plans

  21. Traveling to Georgia for 2 months this summer after visiting briefly for a week last summer! I’m super excited to go and use the nightlife tips since I didn’t get to go last summer

  22. I’m excited!!! My husband and I will be travelling to Georgia this June, and this will be our first travel for leisure. Thank you for sharing your experience and for the suggestions! God Bless!

  23. Hi Drew, Hope you doing great. we are three will travel to Tbilisi Georgia by next beginning of the month for just 4 days. It would be greatly appreciated if you recommend about tour guides if any one knew by you and the best hotel which situated in a nice place as per your great experience over there.
    I believe that your reply would be very much useful for us.

  24. Hello Drew,

    Thank you for an interesting post. Did you combine with any other country or did everything on your own. If possible can you send me your 6 day Itinerary. There are a lot of day trips around Tbliski which I am planning to explore, did you have an oppurtunity to see those.

    Thanks again!

    Regards,
    Kuntal

    1. Hello Kuntal, In Georgia, I only stayed in Tbilisi but there are manny good areas to explore around the country! I also went to Armenia on a shared taxi

        1. Just wondering how did you manage the shared taxi. What time it departs Tbilisi and if it’s true that it takes 5-5.5hrs to reach. How much did you pay for that? Thanks!

  25. Hey Drew,

    hope your article would be very much helpful for my trip to Georgia by next month. Good luck to you.

  26. Georgia and Armenia belong in your Europe section, not Asia. But I am going to the 3 Caucasian countries this year and found this interesting 🙂 your Armenia one perhaps not so much 😛 but it sounds like an interesting experience nonetheless. And Georgian food is definitely good!

  27. Hi Drew,

    I was reading your blog and got a lot of good info about Georgia. Me and my friend will visit Georgia 2nd week of April for 4 days. Everything is booked, flight and hotel. Can you tell me how it will cost per day for tour and food? Your great help is much appreciated.

    Thanks
    xoxo

  28. An extremely insightful and informative blog! While you seem to have covered every possible aspect about this stunning country, maybe you could have also written a bit on the attractions and landmarks one can admire in Georgia – Uplistsikhe Cave Complex, Batumi Coast, Narikala Fortress, Trinity Church, the town of Mtskheta, and so on. Nonetheless, you’ve described Georgia brilliantly, and good luck with your travels!

  29. Hey Drew 🙂
    It was very nice to come across ur article,highly informational
    And on a short note, bro you make me jealous as u r doing something very awesome which I have been wanting to do but locked by my situations…travelling to Georgia next month…best wishes for your future travels…cheers mate :)))

  30. Hi! im planning on traveling to Tbilisi end of this month, it’llbe my first “budget travel” alone. Can you share how much it cost you? Average for that 5 days, including accomodation? TIA ? Happy newyear!

  31. Hey,

    great article for sure! It really describes Georgia as a travel destination perfectly. Just two things, I think you wanted to write that beaches in Georgia are NOT the most beautiful in the world. The name of a hangout you forgot is Canudos Ethnic Bar =) Lots of luck on your travels I wish u!

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